Professor 'killed herself with euthanasia kit bought online'

Avril Henry had been accepted at a Swiss clinic but wanted to die at home, euthanasia charity Exit International says

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The Independent Online

A retired professor has apparently taken her own life just days after police forced their way into her home but failed to take away all of her drugs, a pro-euthanasia campaigner has claimed.

Professor Avril Henry, 81, had her home in Brampford Speke, near Exeter in Devon, raided by police last week after they were tipped off by Interpol that she had bought a euthanasia kit from Mexico.

Her purchase was flagged on Friday night and police in Exeter were sent around to check on her well-being.

Prof Henry, professor of English medieval culture at the University of Exeter until 2000, was a member of Exit International, which advocates the legalisation of euthanasia.

Exit was founded by Dr Philip Nitschke, who was the first physician in the world to administer a legal, lethal, voluntary injection.

Dr Nitschke said Devon and Cornwall Police gained entry to her home by forcing the front door and then left taking with them what they believed were the imported drugs.

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The founder of Exit International, Dr Philip Nitschke, said the police needed to recognise suicide was not a crime and not all people contemplating it are in need of mental health help

But he claimed the officers did not remove all the drugs and Prof Henry used the remainder to end her life on Tuesday.

He said Prof Henry had been accepted in Switzerland for an assisted suicide but wanted to end her life in her own home.

Dr Nitschke said: "Police need to realise that in the UK, suicide is not a crime, and mental health authorities need to recognise that not everyone who seeks to end their life is in need of psychiatric intervention.

"Avril's death was a clear case of 'rational suicide', and her decision to die at her own time and in her own place should have been respected.

"As it is the authorities did everything they could to make her last days on this earth a misery."

A police spokeswoman said: "Devon and Cornwall Police attended an address in Brampford Speke on the April 15 following concerns for the welfare of a person within the property, and therefore entrance was forced.

"No criminal issues were highlighted during this incident and the matter was left in the hands of medical and mental health professionals.

"Police were called to the same address in Brampford Speke on the April 20 following reports of a body of a woman in her 80s being discovered.

"This death isn't currently being treated as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the coroner."

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